As we are now in November, temperatures have dropped below freezing a night or two. I, like many others enjoy a pumpkin flavored anything, but for me the real joy of fall is rotating out my closet. For me it is a time of reinvigoration and reinvention.
The idea of rotation is not new. In fact, historians believe farmers in the Middle East practiced crop rotation as early as 6,000 B.C. While it is unlikely they understood all the science behind crop rotation, they most likely experienced at least one of the main benefits which is pest control.
In the agricultural sector there are likely no topics debated as often as pest control. While undoubtedly everyone agrees pest control is an absolute requirement, the balance between safe and effective is a precarious one at best. Even the term pesticide is confusing as it covers a wide range of compounds including insecticides, fungicides, herbicides, rodenticides, molluscicides, nematicides and plant growth regulators.
With so many options and so many implications of each option, farming has become a very complicated science. In the past, pesticides were often considered a quick, easy and inexpensive solution for controlling weeds and pests. However, irresponsible pesticide application has become at a serious environmental cost.
Pesticide residues have been found in soil and air, and in surface and ground water around the world. Contrary to common misconceptions, even herbicides can cause harm to the environment when used irresponsibly. For individuals who rely heavily on the environment around them for their livelihood, such as farmers environmental concerns are serious, as are the implications for lower crop yields. When these issues are coupled with the growing outcry for all natural organic produce, the equation becomes even more complex.
Perhaps the best solution is the recognition that there is no ideal solution. We all need to become more educated on these issues and we all need to take part in these discussions so that no one single interest group has all the say on decisions that will affect all of us.